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Dramatic pictures and drone footage shows smoke and flames as blaze tears through grassland

PUBLISHED: 16:20 01 July 2018 | UPDATED: 18:19 01 July 2018

Witnesses living nearby reported ash falling into their gardens Picture: SIMON CLARKE

Witnesses living nearby reported ash falling into their gardens Picture: SIMON CLARKE

SIMON CLARKE

These striking images taken by a Colchester photographer capture the extent of a huge grassland blaze which has torn through a shooting range in the town.

Bright orange flames and thick black smoke can be seen pouring over Middlewick Ranges, off Mersea Road, as fire crews work to put out the flames.

Six fire engines and two water bowsers are at the scene Picture: SIMON CLARKESix fire engines and two water bowsers are at the scene Picture: SIMON CLARKE

Approximately 40 firefighters from Colchester, Brightlingsea, Wivenhoe, Tiptree, Coggeshall, Manningtree and South Woodham Ferrers were called in to tackle the large blaze at 1.41pm, which is understood to have broken out in a nearby building and spread to grassland.

Video: MARIUS CARRICK

Representatives for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: “There are reports of low level smoke around the Australian Estate area. Our firefighters are advising people to keep their doors and windows closed.

Bright orange flames and thick black smoke can be seen pouring over the range Picture: SIMON CLARKEBright orange flames and thick black smoke can be seen pouring over the range Picture: SIMON CLARKE

“Firefighters have reported that around seven hectares of field is affected by the fire. Crews are working to divide the ares into sections to prevent further spreading.”

Around 40 firefighters are currently tackling the blaze Picture: SIMON CLARKEAround 40 firefighters are currently tackling the blaze Picture: SIMON CLARKE

Six fire engines, two off road vehicles and a water bowser are currently at the scene, with several crews attempting to put out the fire.

Firefighters are at the scene at the Middlewick Ranges in Colchester Picture: KAY HARRISFirefighters are at the scene at the Middlewick Ranges in Colchester Picture: KAY HARRIS

Witnesses living nearby reported seeing thick smoke in the area and ash blowing over into their gardens.

We will bring you updates on this developing news story as we receive more information from the emergency services.

The cause of the fire is not clear yet but news of the incident comes after chiefs warned of a risk of wildfires in the hot weather.

Experts revealed that June 2018 was the driest on record.

Yesterday, six fire crews were sent to reports of a blaze in Brandon Forest.

Elsewhere, a major incident was declared in Manchester yesterday following two huge blazes on Saddleworth Moor.

• More information to follow.


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